Irish government’s pub reopening plan criticised as “discriminatory” – dpa international


Outdoor drinking on a June Sunday afternoon in Galway (Simon Roughneen)

Outdoor drinking on a June Sunday afternoon in Galway (Simon Roughneen)

DUBLIN — Pubs in Ireland’s capital Dublin have slammed government plans to make them screen customers for proof of coronavirus vaccination as “discriminatory” and likely to spark conflict.

The Licensed Vintners Association (LVA) on Tuesday said the measures, which would apply nationwide as part of a plan to reopen indoor service in restaurants and pubs, “will lead to flashpoints between hospitality staff and potential customers.”

“Our members are already reporting there is real anger about this,” according to LVA chief Donall O’Keefe, who said there are “major question marks” about enforcement of the proposed rules, which would also cover customers with proof of previous coronavirus infection.

However the LVA believes it has “no option” but “to go along” with plan due to the government’s threat to otherwise retain Europe’s sole remaining ban on indoor drinking and dining until at least September.

Indoor service in Northern Ireland, which is part of the UK, reopened almost two months ago, with pubs and restaurants there reporting large numbers of customers from across the open border.

The LVA said some of its 600 member pubs, most of which are in Dublin, have not been allowed to open for almost 500 days.

If the proposals are implemented, the government said it would allow indoor service to resume by July 26. Outdoor service reopened last month and would remain available to the unvaccinated whether or not the indoor proposals are implemented.

Ahead of a parliamentary vote this week, Prime Minister Michéal Martin told public broadcaster RTÉ on Tuesday that the aim was to reopen “in a cautious and safe way” and called on people to “buy into” the plan.

David Cullinane, the health spokesman for Sinn Féin, the biggest opposition party, criticized the proposed rules over “lack of clarity” while Peadar Tóibín of Aontú, a small opposition party, said they amounted to “mandatory vaccination through the back door.”

Earlier the Irish Council for Civil Liberties said the proposals “would run roughshod over equality, data protection and privacy law” while the World Health Organization’s David Nabarro said he would be “nervous” about the plan as it could lead to inequality.

Over two million people, or 57 per cent of adults, have been given two coronavirus vaccine doses in Ireland, according to the health ministry, which said on Tuesday that 62 people were in hospital after testing positive for the virus.

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